Unit 5, Day 1: Matthew 18–20

New Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students, 2015


Introduction

Jesus Christ taught His disciples principles that would help them lead His Church after His Ascension. He also gave the parable of the unmerciful servant in response to Peter’s question about forgiveness, and He taught about the sanctity of marriage. The Savior emphasized the importance of choosing eternal life over worldly wealth, and He gave the parable of the laborers in the vineyard.

Matthew 18

Jesus Christ teaches His disciples principles that will help them lead the Church, and He gives the parable of the unmerciful servant

President Thomas S. Monson

The following account, related by President Thomas S. Monson, tells of a family whose two-month-old baby died: “[The] father was a cabinetmaker and fashioned a beautiful casket for the body of his precious child. The day of the funeral was gloomy, thus reflecting the sadness they felt in their loss. As the family walked to the chapel, with Father carrying the tiny casket, a small number of friends had gathered. However, the chapel door was locked. The busy bishop had forgotten the funeral. Attempts to reach him were futile. Not knowing what to do, the father placed the casket under his arm and, with his family beside him, carried it home, walking in a drenching rain” (“Hidden Wedges,” Ensign, May 2002, 19).

  1. journal icon1.

    Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:

    1. a.

      If you had been a member of that family, how would you have felt when the bishop failed to show up for the funeral?

    2. b.

      Why might it be difficult to forgive the bishop?

In Matthew 18:1–20 we read that Jesus taught His disciples in Galilee to humble themselves and become as little children. He also explained that those who “offend” His childlike followers, or lead them astray, would suffer (see verses 6–7, including Matthew 18:6, footnote a).

The humility of children can be likened to the humility of new converts to the Church. What lessons can we learn from new converts? How can we nurture both children and new converts to the Church?

The Savior then counseled His disciples to remove from their lives those things that could offend them, or cause them to stumble (see verse 9). He also taught the Apostles that if someone trespassed, or sinned, against them, they should first seek to resolve the problem with the person in private. If the person refused to repent, then he or she could be brought before Church authorities. (Note: The Savior’s teachings found in Matthew 18:1–14 will be discussed in greater depth in the lessons on Mark 9 and Luke 15.)

Following this instruction, Peter asked the Lord a question about forgiveness. Read Matthew 18:21, looking for Peter’s question.

Some religious leaders in Peter’s day taught that an individual did not need to offer another person forgiveness more than three times. In asking the Lord if he should forgive someone seven times, Peter may have thought he was being generous (see Bruce R. McConkie, The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 4 vols. [1979–81], 3:91). Read Matthew 18:22, looking for the Savior’s response to Peter.

“Seventy times seven” is a way of saying we should put no limit on the number of times we forgive others. The Savior’s response to Peter teaches the truth that the Lord has commanded us to forgive those who offend or sin against us.

To forgive others is to treat with love the person who has offended or hurt you and to have no unkind feelings toward him or her (see Guide to the Scriptures, “Forgive,” scriptures.lds.org; D&C 64:9–11). Forgiving does not mean that you continue to allow others to harm you or that the offender should not be held accountable for his or her actions, legally or otherwise.

After answering Peter’s question, the Savior taught His disciples a parable that can help us understand why we should forgive others.

Read Matthew 18:23–30, looking for how much money the servant and the fellowservant owed.

How much did the servant owe the king? _____________________________________________

How much did the fellowservant owe the servant? _____________________________________________

Use the following information to help you calculate how long it might take each debtor to pay back what he owed:

In Jesus’s day “it is estimated that 10,000 talents equaled 100,000,000 denarii [Roman currency]. One denarius was a typical day’s wage for a common laborer” (Jay A. Parry and Donald W. Parry, Understanding the Parables of Jesus Christ [2006], 95). Calculate how long it would take for this servant to pay off this debt by dividing 100,000,000 denarii by 365 days.

If all of his wages were given, how many days would it take the servant to repay his debt? _____________________________________________

In comparison, 100 pence equaled 100 denarii. (Remember that most laborers earned one denarius per day.) Calculate how long it would take the fellowservant to pay off his debt.

If all of his wages were given, how many days would it take the fellowservant to repay his debt? _____________________________________________

Read Matthew 18:31–35, looking for how the king responded when he discovered the servant’s actions against the fellowservant.

Why do you think the king told the servant he was wicked for not forgiving his fellowservant his debt?

Based on your reading of verse 35, write down who you think each of the three people in the parable could represent:

King = _____________________________________________

Servant = _____________________________________________

Fellowservant = _____________________________________________

Using what you have learned from this parable, complete the following principle: If we want God to forgive us, then ____________________________________________________________________________________________________. Consider writing this principle in the margin of your scriptures next to Matthew 18:24–35.)

What can a person do if he or she is struggling to forgive someone?

President James E. Faust of the First Presidency taught:

President James E. Faust

“We need to recognize and acknowledge angry feelings. It will take humility to do this, but if we will get on our knees and ask Heavenly Father for a feeling of forgiveness, He will help us. The Lord requires us ‘to forgive all men’ [D&C 64:10] for our own good because ‘hatred retards spiritual growth’ [Orson F. Whitney, Gospel Themes (1914), 144]. Only as we rid ourselves of hatred and bitterness can the Lord put comfort into our hearts. …

“… When tragedy strikes, we should not respond by seeking personal revenge but rather let justice take its course and then let go. It is not easy to let go and empty our hearts of festering resentment. The Savior has offered to all of us a precious peace through His Atonement, but this can come only as we are willing to cast out negative feelings of anger, spite, or revenge. For all of us who forgive ‘those who trespass against us’ [Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 6:13], even those who have committed serious crimes, the Atonement brings a measure of peace and comfort” (“The Healing Power of Forgiveness,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2007, 69).

  1. journal icon2.

    In your scripture study journal, write about a time the Lord has helped you forgive someone who has sinned against or offended you.

President Thomas S. Monson

The following is the conclusion of President Monson’s account shared earlier in this lesson: “If the family were of a lesser character, they could have blamed the bishop and harbored ill feelings. When the bishop discovered the tragedy, he visited the family and apologized. With the hurt still evident in his expression, but with tears in his eyes, the father accepted the apology, and the two embraced in a spirit of understanding” (“Hidden Wedges,” 19).

Ponder those whom you may be withholding forgiveness from in your life. Pray for a desire to forgive and the ability to let go of hurt and anger so that Jesus Christ can help you feel peace and comfort through His Atonement.

Matthew 19:1–12

The Savior teaches about the sanctity of marriage

bride and groom on temple grounds

The Lord’s doctrine concerning marriage and divorce differs from many of the world’s beliefs.

What are some of the world’s beliefs about marriage and divorce? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

As you study Matthew 19:1–12, look for the Lord’s teachings about marriage and divorce and consider the importance of these teachings for you.

Read Matthew 19:1–3, looking for the question the Pharisees asked Jesus.

The phrase “to put away his wife for every cause” (Matthew 19:3) refers to a man divorcing his wife for any reason, even if it is trivial or selfish.

Read Matthew 19:4–6, looking for what the Savior taught about marriage and divorce.

These verses teach that marriage between a man and a woman is a sacred relationship designed and established by God. Consider writing this doctrine in the margin of your scriptures next to Matthew 19:6. In modern revelation the Lord confirmed that “the new and everlasting covenant of marriage” (marriage in the temple) is essential to exaltation (see D&C 131:1–4).

Read Matthew 19:7, looking for another question the Pharisees asked Jesus.

Matthew 19:8–9 records that the Savior told the Pharisees that Moses allowed divorce to occur in his day because of the hardness of the people’s hearts. The term “put away” in these verses can also mean to separate or leave.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks

The following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles helps clarify how this teaching relates to our day: “The kind of marriage required for exaltation—eternal in duration and godlike in quality—does not contemplate divorce. In the temples of the Lord, couples are married for all eternity. But some marriages do not progress toward that ideal. Because ‘of the hardness of [our] hearts’ [Matthew 19:8], the Lord does not currently enforce the consequences of the celestial standard. He permits divorced persons to marry again without the stain of immorality specified in the higher law” (“Divorce,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2007, 70).

  1. journal icon3.

    In your scripture study journal, list some of the ways you are preparing for “the kind of marriage required for exaltation” described by Elder Oaks. What can you do to enter an eternal marriage with a strong commitment to work out differences without divorce?

Matthew 19:13–20:34

Jesus teaches about eternal life, and He gives the parable of the laborers in the vineyard

Matthew 19:13–30 records that Jesus encouraged His followers to seek eternal life rather than worldly wealth. Peter asked what the disciples would receive because they had given up their worldly possessions to follow the Savior. (Note: The events discussed in these verses will be covered in detail in the lesson for Mark 10.)

workers in vineyard

In Matthew 20:1–16 we read that the Savior taught His disciples a parable to help them understand Heavenly Father’s desire to give all His children the opportunity to receive eternal life. In this parable a man hires laborers at different times throughout the day to work in his vineyard, and then he pays them all the same wage at the end of the day.

Matthew 20:17–34 records that Jesus Christ foretold that He would be betrayed and condemned to death when He returned to Jerusalem. He taught His disciples that rather than striving for position and authority, they should follow His example and serve others.

  1. journal icon4.

    Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:

    I have studied Matthew 18–20 and completed this lesson on (date).

    Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: